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Slice of gluten free Red Velvet Cake

I've always loved the thought of Red Velvet Chocolate cake, it summons up images of deliciousness. Of course it has to be gluten free for my family, so here is my recipe. It was delicious we enjoyed every bite!

Next time I make this I will bake the cake in two layers as slicing it created on layer that was larger than the other. Yummy with the frosting between as well as surrounding the cake.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
By: Trina Astor-Stewart

Prepare ingredients ahead in 3 groups.
1.    Blend together the following Liquids
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 peeled beat grated
1 cup orange juice or milk
zest from 1 orange
2 tblsp. White vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring

2.    Blend the following dry ingredients together:
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder (optional)
2 1/4 cups Astoria Mills Pastry Flour - Mix #2
2 tablespoons baking powder
¼ Teaspoon Baking soda
½  cup cocoa sifted
dash salt
Stir the above together to blend well then add
¾ cup shortening or soft butter – blending to a fine mixture.

3.    Whisk or beat until fluffy:
5 eggs
1 cup sugar

4.     Now add all together beating to form a smooth pourable batter.
Pour batter into a round 8 or 9 inch greased springform cake tin. Bake at 350F for about 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Remove cake from tin, cool completely.  Slice in half through the middle with a sharp knife or thread. Fill layer in the middle with frosting, place second cake layer on top and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter together on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy. Spread icing on middle layer, place second layer on top and ice cake with the remaining frosting, saving a little to add red food coloring to as a decorative design.

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Blueberry Scones by Astoria Mills gluten free

Buttery and delicious!

Gluten Free Scones or Biscuits Recipe

By: Trina Astor-Stewart

  1. Place in a bowl:

2 cups Astoria Mills Pastry Flour Mix #2 - (plus about ¼ cup for dusting see below)
Pinch of salt
1 ½  tablespoons baking powder
½  teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup vanilla sugar  (this is my secret ingredient, I keep a large bottle of sugar handy which I have 2 vanilla beans in to add flavor*)
1 tablespoon Xanthan Gum

  1. Blend above together and then add

1 cup butter
Crumble mixture together with pastry blender until course and butter is in small pieces.

  1.  In a separate bowl whisk together until frothy:

1 egg
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Add wet ingredients to dry, and blend gently until dough just comes together. (If adding dried fruit such as raisins or dried blueberries, do so at this point ¾ cup).
Place dough on lightly floured surface with, Astoria Mills Pastry - Flour Mix # 2. www.astoriamills.ca

Lightly flour the top of the dough with Mix #2 and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Use a bench scraper to keep edges even. Lightly sift Pastry Flour Mix #2 on top. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. Lightly sift Pastry Flour Mix #2 on top again. Add just enough Mix #2 to make workable, don’t add too much. Roll dough into a rectangle about 1 ½ inch thick.

With a sharp knife, cut rectangle into two halves. Cut triangle shaped scones out of rectangles. Place scones on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place in fridge for 15 minutes or overnight. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place scones on middle rack- bake scones about 20 minutes, until tops are slightly golden, tops are firm when touched. Do not over-bake.  Place scones on a linen towel covered cooling rack to cool. Makes about 9 to 12 scones. Recipe can be doubled and scones frozen and baked as needed. Baking time will increase slightly.

When I froze scones to be baked later, I found a better result occurred when scones were let to defrost a little prior to baking, but still remaining cold. Baking frozen, did not rise quite as much but were still good.

Scones with dried fruit: Add ¾ cup of dried fruit such as dried blueberries, raisins, cranberries or cherries to dry mixture before gently kneading and rolling out dough.

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So how do you decide which gluten free flour mix is right for you? If you do a search online for gluten free flour mixes you will come up with pages and pages of different gf mix recipes. For someone just starting a gluten free diet this can be overwhelming.

Strawberry Custard Tarts made with Astoria Mills Pastry Flour - Mix #2

Recently I talked with a woman who went out and bought about 10 different gluten free flours to start baking with. Since different combinations work differently and also taste different, she very quickly got very discouraged with her new diet.

Now if this dietary change had been a choice she would not have been so devastated, but you see, for her, wheat or gluten containing flours for baking were now out of the question as eating even a crumb caused her agony.

Just as there are different grades of wheat based flours, such as all purpose, pastry and cake flours as well as hard wheat and whole wheat, you need different gluten free flour mixtures to achieve varied results.

I faced this situation about 20 years ago, trying out this combination or that one, finding that many recipes just did not turn out the way my wheat baking had done. Nor did the taste satisfy me, not to mention that there was less nutrition in many gluten free flour blends.  It was always a crap shoot mixing my own mixes due to the difference in grinds available most of the time. Sometimes I would end up with a gritty batch which was not as palatable. I wanted to be able to bake and share with guests and have them not only, not taste a lot of difference to what they were used to on a wheat diet, but want seconds!

Also even naturally gluten free whole grains are hard to source in an un-cross contaminated state at less than 20ppm. Which is said to be safe, but is not tolerated by some of us who are extra sensitive. I bought 25 lbs of buckwheat flour one time, only to discover it had been cross contaminated. The same thing happened another time with wild rice, and these had actually been marked 'gluten free'.

Grades of the same flour also differ. Brown rice and sorghum flour are only two of which that can be radically different depending on the manufacturer and lot.

Raising a family on a gluten free diet, I came up with my own blends that worked in various situations, tasted good and everyone liked. However; it would take me quite a bit of shopping around to find all the various items sometimes, too much time. Sometimes a particular ingredient would not be available. Sometimes the level of gluten free or ppm would vary. Since there are very sensitive people at our house, this meant discarding a batch every now and then due to the family member getting a slight gluten buzz.

I'm sure many people on a gluten free diet can relate. After years of juggling my gluten free flours, I came up with some pretty fool proof blends. I started writing down my recipes using my blends. I would take foods to church suppers to share, I only have a gluten free kitchen, so this arrangement made sure we had something we could eat and others could try. It is amazing that everywhere you go, you meet someone who needs to eat gluten free.

People tasted and marveled and pretty soon I was getting a lot of requests. Since me and my little kitchen couldn't produce my mixes efficiently, I decided to see about producing them in a dedicated factory. It was a dream come true and I could help feed others. I don't know why I love sharing food so much, maybe it came down from my great Aunt Sally who lived in a small town in Oklahoma during the depression. When someone came into town with nothing, they would send them to Aunt Sally's house for a good meal. Always room for one more!

I put in all my wish lists I had wanted over the years into Astoria Mills gluten free mixes. Nutrition! I had a formula of vitamins and minerals created by a food lab especially to augment a gluten free diet, awesome! I learned about the benefits of resistant starch and after experimenting for weeks, was able to figure out just the right amount to be beneficial and still make foods that rival wheat.

It was a big labor of love, a family endeavor, and investing 'the farm' to finally see the new gluten free mixes manufactured at a pharmaceutical grade gluten free facility, but well worth it I think.

Just recently I did a taste testing and brought some of my gluten free scones. One woman who tried them, closed her eyes in delight, and said, "Now that is a scone". I took some in to my hairdressers, Headliners in Niagara Falls NY, and they passed them out saying, OMG they are good! They are all wheat eaters normally. One woman took a couple home to her niece to try who is celiac.

Remembering the early stages of healing when starting a gluten free diet,  I also wanted to take into consideration making flour mixes that would be safe for anyone to begin with, yet work well enough and taste good enough so that they would be great for every stage in a gluten free diet.

Because many in the early stages of a gluten free diet can't tolerate beans that are more nutritious, or even some of the other whole grain gluten free options, I decided to create an additive system. These can be added as tolerated.

So if you are new to a gluten free diet (or not) and looking for an enriched healthy blend of gluten free flours that are lab tested below 5ppm that can make baked goods that rival wheat and taste most like the traditional foods you are used to, then you need to buy Astoria Mills gluten free baking mixes. With a set of Astoria Mills mixes in your kitchen cupboard and my free with purchase e-Cookbook containing 343 recipes, you will always be able to make something good to eat.

Astoria Mills Gluten Free Baking Mixes Recipe e-Cookbook Cover

 

Egg Salad Sandwich on White Bread - Mix #7

I have taste tested on wheat eaters for the past five years and always come out with raves. I always say, "You can get someone to take a bite out of politeness, but you can't get them to finish the whole piece or ask for another if they don't like it! "

Astoria Mills produces three flour blends plus bread, pizza and bun mixes, to make having delicious freshly baked breads and buns easy again. If you compare, pound for pound, you will find the cost of Astoria Mills is very competitive even though these mixes offer more nutrition than most.

For lots more information go to Astoria Mills website.

Astoria Mills gluten free flour mixes weigh 2.2 lbs. and are a good value since they are enriched. You can actually save money in the long run since an entire set makes so much.  The cost of raw flours for mixes are much more expensive than those containing gluten due to the fact that they must be processed to avoid cross contamination. If naturally gluten free flours were all processed to maintain their gf nature, we would see prices go down eventually, but that is in a perfect world. Here is a link to a study on gluten free flour price comparisons.

I can attest to Teff and Quinoa being more expensive at under 5ppm, it is like 10 times more! These were the hardest to source and the most expensive ingredients in Astoria Mills Aztec Harvest Blend - Mix #4 a whole grain/seed  gluten free and corn free blend.

Hot Cross Buns

Memories of Easter for me always center around making or baking something. Making treats and a special meal or two for family. It is a special time to share crafts and activities with family and friends. Usually we would do something like paint eggs when the children were small, make some cut out cookies or homemade taffy.

Then there was always the egg hunt, placing eggs down the stairway and hiding them among the furniture for eager little ones to find, or outside weather permitting.

Before going gluten free, we always bought Hot Cross Buns which were available a couple of weeks before Easter. They were good for breakfasts and even a treat for a sandwich lunch. So this year I decided to make a gluten free version of Hot Cross Buns to share with you.

These are easy to make with Astoria Mills White Bread - Mix #7 as the base. Here is the recipe and a few photographs. I made and baked some right away to take as a picnic lunch on a trail hike and also froze some un-baked which I can bake without any work at all for Easter Sunday brunch.

Make Ahead Hot Cross Buns Recipe

1. In a bowl place dry ingredients:
4 cups of Astoria Mills White Bread - Mix #7
1/3 cup soft butter (or margarine)
3 tablespoons sugar
Blend with fingers to mix together - set aside.

2. Wet ingredients:
6 eggs beaten until light and frothy
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (or milk)

3. Beat or whisk in dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the dough and place in a separate bowl. This is for the crosses.

4. To the first dough mixture add the spices:
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
( you can also add raisins and candied peel at this point, although I didn't for the ones shown)

Dough for Hot Cross Buns

5. Let both dough mixtures proof covered for about 2 hours.

6. Knead the spiced dough with a little Astoria Mills Fine Flour - Mix #3. Just add enough to make a workable dough, too much and the buns may become a bit heavier although still good.

Using a pastry brush, brush an egg wash on top of each bun. An egg wash is a mixture of egg and water)

7. Take the plain or white dough mixture and knead it gently and roll out into a round from which you can cut strips to place on the buns in the shape of an X.  Let the buns rise for another 30 minutes and either bake or freeze to bake later.

Ready to bake Hot Cross Buns

I baked 4 large ones as shown right away, and froze 4 to bake later. You could make them smaller, but I wanted large ones for hearty chicken sandwiches.

8. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes until browned. To bake frozen buns, place buns frozen into a cold oven. Turn oven on to 350F and bake for about 40 minutes.

Hot Cross Buns - just out of the oven!

9. For an extra special touch, you can add white icing to the 'cross' or just make the cross with some white icing. Just mix together a little soft butter, icing sugar, and a little cream for the icing. Since I was using these for sandwiches, I omitted the icing.

For breakfast the next morning I toasted a bun, buttered both sides, placed together and cut it in half. So we would each get equal top and bottom :) One was enough for the two of us.

For our hike through the woods I packed a picnic lunch consisting of two Hot Cross Buns filled with chicken breast and gf mayo, a couple of oranges, bananas and bottled water. Sure tasted good after our three hour trek through beautiful Niagara Glen!

Gluten Free Lunch at Niagara Glen

The photograph above shows our Hot Cross Bun lunch perched on a part of a fence overlooking the Niagara River. It was a beautiful sunny early spring day in March and the river was visible at lots of points along the trails when it would probably have been hidden behind foliage in summer. Lunch sure tasted good!

I had to be quick to get a photograph of the sandwich inside before it got eaten.

...almost eaten sandwich

Hope you will try making some delicious gluten free Hot Cross Buns with
Astoria Mills White Bread - Mix #7 ...Yummy for sure! Good for you too, with the added vitamin and mineral formula and resistant starch already in the mix - easy on the digestion and it stays with you.

Here's a new recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato Soup with Gluten Free Brown Bread.
Also some news about our latest Gluten Free Baking Class Videos.

Delicious Hot Soup

This is a hearty cold weather meal, and since March winter chill is still with us, though the clear blue skies and sunny days herald the coming of spring, we can still enjoy this delicious soup. Of course with a slice or two of nutritious gluten free brown bread and butter.

This soup has a ham bone in it for flavor, but you can leave it out and just have a vegetable soup if you like. I always buy ham with the bone in. Sometimes when they remove the bone, they glue it back together to look pretty using some wheat glue. So make sure you buy gf ham. After roasting and having a meal or three, I leave some of the ham on the bone and freeze it for a soup later on.

Soup Recipe

As you can see from the photograph, I start by placing
2 large washed, with ends cut off but unpeeled, sweet potatoes in a large stock pot and adding
1  ham bone
4 peeled whole onions
1 small head of red cabbage cut in two (for those who don't like boiled cabbage, you won't even notice it in there)
4 or 5 carrots whole
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt if you are not using a ham bone
6 or 7 cloves of garlic
Place kale on top, fill pot with water to 3/4 full and place on stove. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer covered for 2 or 3 hours until everything is soft. Before serving, use a large spoon to break everything apart into a nice smooth yet chunky soup.

(In the photo, you only see a little kale, but actually I packed in quite a bit of kale, greens are so good for you)

Kale Soup and vegetables in pot ready to cook
Vegetables in Soup Pot

Serve with Gluten Free Brown Bread made with Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6 and a sprig of refreshing Cilantro on top!

Enjoy the wonderful taste of the bread and soup together. The bread has no 'off flavors' is soft and delicious as well as healthful with the added sprouted flax, sprouted chia seeds and source of resistant starch which is good for the digestion.

Just follow the directions on the Brown Bread Mix #6 package, all you have to add are eggs, water and oil. (If you need an egg free version, just use ground flax seeds instead of eggs) Astoria Mills - Free From: gluten - wheat - milk - lactose - soy - bean/pea - sesame - tree nut - peanut - sulphites.

Here is a link to a Baking Class Video of how easy it is to make this gluten free brown bread.

Gluten-Free Brown Bread Slices
Gluten-Free Brown Bread Slices

Now all you have to do is enjoy!

To browse and shop for Astoria Mills gluten free baking mixes please visit our new website.

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More people are becoming aware that perhaps the beloved hamburger bun may actually be contributing to their health problems,

the gluten in it, that is.

Up until recently it was thought that only a small segment of the population could not digest gluten since they had celiac disease. However, due to a recent study, those with celiac disease may be just a small segment of those who must follow a gluten free diet for health reasons. Gluten Sensitivity is actually a separate condition which many more people suffer from unknowingly.

"The prevailing problem is that many Americans simply may not realize they are gluten intolerant/sensitive, or they may be ignoring signs and symptoms," David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, said in a press release. "While food companies may be overdoing it unnecessarily with gluten-free label claims that are appearing on everything from tomato sauce to scallops, the message is getting out and it's likely that many more consumers will engage in the sector, both for foods eaten at home and at restaurants."

Slices of gluten free brown bread
Bread made from Astoria Mills Brown Bread - Mix #6

 See the Brown Bread Baking Class Video here

As someone who has a family of gluten sensitive and celiac people, I don't think food companies are over doing it at all.

I like to know if something is gluten free.

One of the stores I shop at make a point of having their store brands say gluten free or have an allergen free label for other areas like dairy. It makes shopping a lot easier, I always pick the one with the gluten free label  on it even though it is right beside a similar product with the same ingredients. It just gives me more peace of mind. Reading the labels is one thing, but sometimes that can have little effect on cross contamination.

While sourcing ingredients for one of our blends containing all naturally gluten free seeds and grains for Astoria Mills gluten free mixes; I thought that would be easy. But due to our desire to keep mixes under 5ppm this particular mix was the hardest to source ingredients for due to many current milling operations which don't take gluten sensitivity into consideration enough to avoid cross contamination issues.

According to recent reports by Amy C. Brown of the Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii and Dr. Alessio Fasano, Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Director, Center for Celiac Research, University of Maryland Medical Center; Gluten Sensitivity (or Intolerance) has been recently found to be a separate condition from Celiac Disease, which is an Autoimmune disorder or Wheat Allergy.

Studies at the University of Hawaii are endeavoring to shed more light on what people with unexplained symptoms are experiencing. Since gluten sensitivity can mimic so many other health issues and people are sometimes not being able to obtain a clear diagnosis it is important that more health professionals and individuals themselves become aware of what might be causing their problems. This is not to say that everyone should be on a gluten free diet, it is not something we would wish on anyone. But when a gluten free diet is the only help, thank goodness there are more food choices becoming available, and food companies who are listening.

Since no clear diagnosis testing is currently available for Gluten Sensitivity, like what is available for Celiac Disease, many people have been confused about what was actually making them feel ill. Because so much information has been more recently available about the role of gluten in the diet, many people  have taken themselves off gluten in what is called "A Gluten Challenge" in the hopes that unexplained symptoms would be alleviated. Many times, they feel better. They are on a road to recovery that can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years, depending on the severity of symptoms and the level of gluten freedom exercised.

Doctors up until recently, according to Dr. Fasano, thought celiac or those having adverse reactions to gluten fit the profile of someone who looks emaciated.  Now it is realized that even seemingly obese, just plump, or normal weight people may be gluten sensitive so doctors are more often advising the elimination of gluten to see if this could be the cause of unexplained symptoms.

Patients with gluten sensitivity have unfortunately experience delayed diagnosis, since for them, consuming gluten often mimics other conditions. Maybe they are just bloated, or sleepy or feeling bad, any of which can be ignored or attributed to something else until symptoms worsen when continuing to consume gluten.

For anyone who has 'been there', cutting out gluten for a short time is not bad, a lifetime, can be more difficult and demands an entire lifestyle change. Fortunately there is good news since there are more and more food choices that are gluten free.

According to Amy C. Brown, "This emerging medical problem may involve human genetics,
plant genetic modifications, gluten as a food additive, environmental toxins, hormonal influences, intestinal infections and autoimmune diseases".

Listening to a talk given by Dr. Fasano in September 2011 at the Buffalo Gluten Freedom Day, he mentioned that, "The medical community is searching for answers and as yet no clear cause has been found."

Whatever the 'cause' the treatment at present is a gluten-free diet.

As Dr. Fasano also stated during his talk, "People with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are actually some of the lucky ones, they don't need medications, just a change in diet."

Here is what I like to focus on, all of the good foods we can eat! Feeling good and enjoying cooking and baking with family.

Would you like to know how to make my favorite Artisan Brown Bread, (some slices pictured above) full of fiber, nutritious sprouted flax seeds, sprouted chia seeds and sweet potato flour?

See the Brown Bread Baking Class Video here

Yummy… Slices of bread and butter, now that is a little bit of heaven.

Life is good on a gluten free diet!

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Tea biscuits with raisins
Easy gluten free tea biscuits recipe for breakfast with eggs and coffee

There is always one of those Saturday or Sunday mornings when you get up, and think, I sure would love to have something different. Sure would like to have some biscuits. But then, you blink your eyes and say to yourself, "That is just too much work!"

Now in about ten minutes you can have these delicious little biscuits made and enjoy them with eggs and coffee.

All you do is, while the skillet is heating up to medium low, mix up the biscuit ingredients. Follow the recipe. Place on a plate. Take the same pan, cook your eggs, boil the kettle or put the coffee on and you are ready.

Easy enough to do just for yourself, pretty and tasty enough to do for the whole family or impress mom!

Stove Top - Tea Biscuits

Only minutes to make these delicious biscuits for breakfast or any time you would like a quick snack bread. The Resistant Starch and Vitamin Enrichment in Astoria Mills All Purpose Flour Mix #1 makes these even healthier.

Whisk together in a bowl:

1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon oil
2 eggs (or flax seed substitute)

Blend together dry ingredients:

1 cup Astoria Mills All Purpose Flour - Mix #1  (Contains vitamins, minerals and resistant starch for added nutrition)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Baking Powder

Mix wet and dry ingredients together. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a pre-warmed (no oil) cast iron skillet, or non stick skillet. Flatten each with your spoon. Cover and let cook for about 3 minutes, flip and cook on the other side for about 3 or 4 minutes until slightly golden. Serve warm as shown with eggs 'over easy' and coffee. Nice biscuits to scoop up that delicious yolk with.

These are very easy to make for a quick tea time snack and taste great with butter and jam. Or for a Victorian Tea, serve with clotted cream and fruit preserves.

Tea Biscuits with Apricot Jam
Tea Biscuits with Butter and Apricot Jam

The morning I made these for hubby and me, we saved a couple and had them with tea mid afternoon.

There are times, when you just need something simple and easy.